Tuesday, 10 January 2017


I love walking. I always have done. The areas I loved for walking as a young man were North Wales and The English Lake District. There was an openness and a closeness to the countryside because of the smallness. Scotland is wonderful and grand but many of its mountains could not be climbed by someone living on Merseyside (as I did until I came to live in Scotland) half a century ago without taking a holiday for the purpose. However I could get into the car and spend a day or a weekend on the Lake District fells. And I often did. One of my favourite places in the sixties was Borrowdale and, particularly, the little village of Grange-in-Borrowdale where I used to stay at Riggside. This is the post office in, I think, 1970.

The wide open treeless fells were often used for hound trailing. Unlike hunting a man ran with a scented lure tied behind him and the hounds set off later.

Like Yorkshire Pudding, one of my principal loves when out walking was taking photographs.

I wrote this because of a recent post by Librarian who writes frequently about her wonderful walks and recently showed us a walk through coniferous forests. I love deciduous forests but I cannot walk alone through coniferous forests without becoming hemmed in with claustrophobia and a real feeling of dread. What is odd is that I don't feel like that if I have a companion. Out on the fells though there is no such feeling at all. One is free.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

2017 So Far

It's 14 days since I posted on my Blog.  I think (though I could be wrong) that is may be the longest time since I started blogging  that I haven't posted on this or my New Zealand Blog. I haven't run out of topics nor have I run out of photos (although I haven't taken many for a while). I just seem to have succumbed to a mental greyness which is rather like the weather here when it's not blowing a gale or storm force winds.

In the days before my New Zealand life started I just hunkered down in the winter and did winter things. The long nights and 6 hours of daylight didn't put me up or down. Then came nearly a decade with no winter. Last year I had a 6 week break in New Zealand just about now to look forward to and that glorious 6 weeks and a Lewis summer kept me going....until a few weeks ago. Then my current house projects completed and Christmas dinner over (the first one I had ever cooked) and a break from working at Gaz and Carol's house have seen my mind slip into a sort of grey area longing for New Zealand, the sun and croquet. It's not that I haven't got lots of things to do. I have. Being physically active isn't a problem. However I'm finding being mentally active very hard.

I wrote a New Year post only to find that I wrote the same post last year. I couldn't believe it. What amused me, though, was that two of my regular readers (you know who you are) would immediately have remembered my previous post even though I hadn't.

For a lot of reasons I am not contemplating a New Zealand trip this year. That makes me very sad so I try not to think about it.

On the plus side I have been writing far more letters and cards and planning my next couple of projects. Before too long I shall be making another trip to the City where it is possible to ride the Clockwork Orange (although I rarely do), meet up with friends and enjoy the Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Perhaps when I return I shall be more alive and ready for Spring.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Thankful Thursday: Work

Okay it's no longer Thursday and I don't work (for a living) any more. However I thought of this post yesterday (which was Thursday when I started this post) and was working (though not for a living) all week at my son and daughter-in-law's house to be (which is now almost ready for habitation) together with my son and various tradesmen. 

One of the things about working with other people is that BBC Radio 2 seems to be the default acceptable radio programme of choice (for non-UK residents Radio 2 is a popular light mixture of music and chat). One of the presenters is Jeremy Vine. So far as I can gather he indulges in a sort of pop journalism. Until last Thursday the words he had uttered had passed over or through my head without any of them stopping. On Thursday the subject of internet availability arose and my ears pricked up. The Government is to pump another couple of hundred million £s into making fast broadband available in remoter areas. Apparently I now have what BT regards as superfast broadband (If I'm lucky I have 2.5MbPS which is half of what I learned Netflix regards as needed for to watch a movie) so this is a subject close to my heart. 

And then the words that will forever lead to me holding the aforementioned Mr Vine in contempt. Paraphrased "If you live in a remote area why would you want or should you have broadband internet anyway. I thought the whole reason for living in a remote area was to get away from such things." Now I am realistic enough to know that he was being deliberately provocative but he carried on espousing that line of thought until I eventually went to work out of earshot. 

Then it occurred to me that there are probably millions of people in Watford who now believe that philosophy and will vote for independence from the Remote Areas thus ridding themselves of expensive members of the population who are such a drain on their taxes. Mind you we'd probably end up in the urban areas taking their jobs.

Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Decorations

Those of you who know me (and, I suspect by now those who don't will have realised) also know that I am not a Christmas person and the one and only time I have had a Christmas tree since I have lived alone was when Friend Who Knows Too Much said she would only bring The Girls (her two wonderful daughters) if I put up a tree. So I did. I also put three sets of lights on it (it was a reasonably sized tree) and plenty of decorations. During the morning two sets of lights went out and then as they walked in the third set expired too. None of the spare bulbs I had would fit any of the sets on the tree and they were all different from each other so I couldn't even pinch from one to mend another. So the tree sat there in a shadow of what should have been its glory. The tree went out and the decorations went to a charity shop. That was the last time I had a tree.

Actually no. That's not correct. The first Christmas I spent in New Zealand Catriona was only just 5. She made me a tree. Each year that tree has come out and has been on display as it is this year:

 Together with another one Catriona made for me:

This year I thought I'd make a bit more effort. Not entirely my own effort I have to admit. My little Santa (gift some years ago from FWKTM) is next to the candle and the glass piece centre top is a gift from the USA and the glass tree from a friend in Glasgow who is a very talented glass artist.

The mobile, bottom right, is a reminder of the large one my family acquired when we used to stay in Berlin and Bavaria in the '80s.

In addition I have 
I must be getting mellow in my old age.